Kyiv The Ukrainian head of state Volodymyr Zelenskiy thanked the EU for its previous support – and at the same time submitted new wishes. Once again, he urged EU leaders to supply his country with modern fighter jets, as well as longer-range missiles. After his visit to the liberated Cherson in the south of the country, he reported on Thursday that life is gradually returning there.
He thanked Poland and Slovakia for the decision to provide Soviet MiG-29 fighter jets, Selenski said on Thursday at an EU summit to which he was connected via video. “This will significantly strengthen the defense of our airspace. But we need modern aircraft.”
Slovakia announced on Thursday that it had handed over the first four of its 13 promised Soviet MiG-29 aircraft to Ukraine. Earlier, Poland had announced the delivery of fighter jets of the same type. Zelensky has also long been pushing for the delivery of modern combat aircraft from the West.
Zelensky asked summit participants if there was a rationale behind the delay in the delivery of modern aircraft. He referred to the Russian threats before the delivery of the German Leopard main battle tank from the EU. “And what did Russia do then? We all have to get used to the fact that a terrorist state bluffs more often than it can escalate.”
Selenski emphasized: “Time is important. Not only months and weeks, but also days are important. The faster we act together, the more lives we can save.” At the same time, he referred to the previous support from abroad. “This is proof that Europe knows how to defend its values and has the courage to stand up to terrorism,” he said.
Zelensky: Life returns to destroyed villages
After a visit to the Cherson region in southern Ukraine, which was largely recaptured by Ukrainian troops in the autumn, Zelensky drew a positive conclusion. “In some places, more than 90 percent of the buildings were destroyed,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address on Thursday. “But even in such villages, people are returning, and that is proof that life is still winning.” Ukraine will do its utmost “to rebuild our territories”.
Life is even returning to the fields around Cherson. “It is a joy to see how the fields in the Kherson region, cleared by Russian mines and shells, are being cultivated and brought back to life,” Zelensky said. However, there are still enough fields that are mined. “There is still enough work for our engineers and pyrotechnicians.” Zelensky stressed, however, that he was confident that these areas would be cleared of all the deadly legacies of Russia. “All Ukraine will live.”
In this context, Zelenski addressed special thanks to Finland. The government in Helsinki decided on Thursday to hand over three Leopard mine clearance vehicles to Ukraine.
Kiev: Russians launch “cleansing operation” in Kherson region
According to the Ukrainian general staff, Russian troops and security services began so-called cleansing operations among the population on the banks of the Dnipro they controlled in the southern Ukrainian region of Cherson. The search for citizens with pro-Ukrainian attitudes, military pensioners and employees of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies has begun in various settlements there, the General Staff in Kiev announced on Thursday in its daily situation report on Facebook.
In contrast, a large-scale raid took place in the Nowa Kachowka settlement. Large quantities of household appliances, jewelery and mobile phones were “confiscated” from the civilian population. The information could not be independently verified.
During a Ukrainian offensive in the fall, the Russian military retreated from the west bank of the Dnipro near Cherson. Since then, Russian troops have massively expanded their defense lines on the south bank of the river.
Russian missile attack on Odessa
The Russian Air Force fired several rockets at the port city of Odessa in southern Ukraine on Thursday evening. According to initial reports from the Ukrainian military, two missiles were intercepted by anti-aircraft defenses. Further information was initially not available. The day before, Odessa had been attacked with several rockets.
This is how the Handelsblatt reports on the Ukraine war:
What will be important on Friday
On Friday, too, new fighting is expected around the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, which has been heavily fought over for months. Ukrainian military officials say they have recognized a drop in Russian combat effectiveness.
More: Current news on developments in the Ukraine war can be found in our news blog